Yesterday, Tonya and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary – hard to believe but only getting better with each year. We stayed in downtown Denver at the Oxford Hotel, a place that has been in existence for over one hundred years. We enjoyed a great production of “A Christmas Carol” and a late dinner at McCormicks.
Twenty years ago we got married in Memphis during a tremendous rain storm. After the wedding and reception we rode off in a limousine (complete with Tonya popping her head out the sun roof, much the way the Queen of England would do). We spent our first married night in Memphis, our second in Jackson, Mississippi, our third in Pascagoula, and in many different cities ever since.
Tonya was raised in a minister’s home and for some reason decided to marry one, too. I have often told people that congregations hire me just to get her. It is probably more true than I realize. She had been more than I could have asked for in terms of a helper, counselor, and friend. Her judgment has kept me from making mistakes I would have blundered into on my own.
As I watch her with our daughters, I see the woman I hope our girls will become. Tender-hearted, faithful, patient, and resilient. She is one who puts her love of God above all and it shows. I see our daughters doing the same and it brings me such joy.
We have journeyed many miles in twenty years, literally and figuratively. San Diego, San Francisco, Atlanta, and Denver. We left the denomination we both grew up in; not an easy choice or transition. It came with conflict and hurt feelings. We started a new church from scratch when it would have been more comfortable to stay where we were. We made the decision to close down that same church even though it had become a third child to us.
At each step of the way, her concern was simply that we be following the call of God. There were many opportunities to do what was comfortable but that has never been our objective. And I do mean “our” objective because it has been a shared journey.
Lord willing, if we are blessed to celebrate our 30th anniversary, it will be with children off to college, grayer hairs on our heads, and more creaking in our bones. I’m not sure what those next ten years might hold but I do know who I’d like to be holding.
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